In the modern day, millions of people are using mobile devices and a large percentage of those devices are smartphones and tablets. They are easy to carry around, sport useful apps and just about anyone can use them with relative ease. This leaves the future of the PC in a precarious position. Microsoft realized this with Windows 8, attempting to cater to the tablet audience, but receiving a lukewarm response. Recently PCs saw the biggest drop in quarterly sales yet. Something needs to change. At D11, we were offered some possibilities of where the PC might be going, or perhaps what might cause its extinction.
Is It A Matter Of Time?
Former head of Windows at Microsoft Steve Sinofsky gave his thoughts on the future of the PC. He points out that the industry is in a period of massive change. He suggests that despite our tendency to pick out victors and losers, we are in a transitional state. He notes that part of this transition seems to be the PC becoming more mobile. He also points out another big issue: People expect their PCs to run as they are supposed to. By necessity, it has to compete with the ease of use that smartphones and tablets present. The closed case model he suggests would certainly bring the PC into a more streamlined realm. The truth is that we don’t know what the future of the PC is at all. Just as Apple surprised us with the iPhone and revolutionized the definition of a cellphone, the very same might happen with the PC. To its advantage, the PC has a large number of manufacturers who are all in this same boat. When you take a company like Dell that has no ground in the mobile market, they need to find a way to reinvent the PC, or it may be the end for them.
The Threat of Wearable Computing
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The obvious threat to PCs are smartphones and tablets, but there might be another variety of devices that PCs will have to contend with in the future: wearable computing. If the appeal of the smartphone is its portability, the appeal of wearable computing is the fact that it feels natural. While we can see a smartphone as a shrunk down computer, wearable computing is an entirely different thing. Without explicitly stating it, Tim Cook seemed to make Apple’s interest in this field clear.
If Apple can make a successful entry into wearable computing, this would pave the way for other companies to try their hand. If the PC could become the central hub for our portable devices, perhaps it could sustain itself While the power of a PC can’t be beat for power users and professionals, there seems to be no question that for the average end user their utility is being questioned. The PC may turn into something more akin to a home tablet in the years to come, much like Lenovo’s new Horizon. Perhaps the best indicator of the PC’s future was the surprising lack of representation it had at D11. For those who look to the future, it may already be a piece of history.
Post from Ryan Harris. To quote Ryan’s Twitter profile, he likes to “talk tech news and moon landings, but mostly tech news.” Ryan is currently a copywriter with a few websites – including InternetServiceProviders.com – who’s working to expand where his writing can be found. If Twitter isn’t your thing, please feel free to send Ryan an email with your questions.